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As 2023 draws to a close, it’s worth pausing to reflect on and celebrate the extraordinary strength of Victoria’s visitor economy – and the incredible people who make up Team Victoria.

Early this year, we foreshadowed a year of transition and opportunity. A transition back to a thriving and vibrant visitor economy – and an opportunity for even greater partnerships and growth across our State.

The NVS/IVS data released today certainly indicates Victoria’s visitor economy is humming, with a new record of $36.9 billion in visitor expenditure as of September 2023 – an increase of $800 million since the year ending June 2023.

Other key results include:

  • Victoria had 22 per cent of Australia’s market share for overall visitor spend.
  • All Victorian tourism regions had significantly higher domestic visitor expenditure compared to 2019, including Geelong and the Bellarine (+74 per cent), Phillip Island (+64 per cent), and the Grampians (+59 per cent).
  • Melbourne remained Australia’s top interstate overnight leisure destination for visitation with 3.8 million visitors staying 15.2 million nights and spending $5.1 billion. This expenditure marked a 43 per cent increase on pre-2019 levels.
  • Victoria’s top two international markets for expenditure were China, which surpassed $1 billion for the first time since 2019 and now sits at $1.6 billion, and India at $444 million.

Congratulations to all participants in Victoria’s visitor economy for your contribution in these incredible results.

At Visit Victoria, we’re proud of our campaigns, Stay close, go further and Get Set – Melbourne, which have helped showcase Melbourne and regional Victoria to entice more people to visit. Combined, these campaigns reached almost 18 million people in the year ending September 2023.

Our digital audiences continued to grow, with monthly website traffic to our consumer websites in April 2023 eclipsing one million visits for the first time since July 2019.

Our social media channels, e-newsletters and the Official Visitor Guide also grew in reach and readership in both domestic and international markets, such as Visit Melbourne’s Instagram account marking one million followers in November.

Events continued to be a strong driver of visitation – and Visit Victoria is proud of our role in curating and delivering world class events calendars.

A new report by Ernst and Young, commissioned by Visit Victoria, found that Victoria’s blockbuster major events calendar delivered $3.3 billion to the state economy in 2022-23 – $800 million more than when it was last measured in 2018.

This year, Melbourne’s jam-packed events calendar saw record crowds at the Australian Open and Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix. Sports fans were enthralled by the Matildas campaign at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and they cheered on their teams at the Bledisloe Cup, Constellation Cup and throughout the AFL season.

Cultural events drew strong crowds for the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces’ Pierre Bonnard at the NGV and Goddess at ACMI. Theatre productions included Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, & Juliet and Moulin Rouge! The Musical.

While regional Victoria hosted the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, MotoGP Phillip Island and regional edition of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Business events also delivered brilliantly, with Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) continuing to achieve outstanding results for the State. MCB has a healthy and strong pipeline of business events for the state, successfully acquiring 133 business events from now until 2028. These events are expected to deliver more than $698 million to the Victorian economy, with close to 137,000 delegates and more than 365,000 room nights – enough to fill the city 15 times over.

As we bring in 2024, Victoria’s visitor economy is well and truly moving from a year of transition into one of growth.

At Visit Victoria and MCB, we will bring a laser focus on the return of international which we see as the major opportunity to drive growth.

We will continue to support industry to become internationally ready though the Australian Tourism Exchange 2024 and International Business Accelerator Program.

In early 2024, we also look forward to focusing on marketing Victoria in domestic and international markets, which will showcase what makes Melbourne and regional Victoria special.

Our events calendar will continue in earnest, with an extended 15-day Australian Open, Groundhog Day The Musical, Titanic: the Artefact Exhibition, Lisa Gorman + Mirka Mora in Warrnambool, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and more.

The Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME), which is owned by MCB and is the leading trade event for the meetings and event industry in the Asia Pacific region, will kick off the international business events calendar in February 2024. Last year, deals done on the show floor have been valued at $200 million and it’s anticipated the 2024 event will top that.

In June, more than 13,000 visitors from over 100 countries will descend on Melbourne for the Lions International Convention. Conventions of this size create huge economic contribution – this one event will generate more than $84 million to the Victorian economy and will have hundreds of side events.

Business events like this are a significant driver of hotel occupancy mid-week and during low-season periods – and MCB is working to encourage delegates to stay longer and spend more in restaurants, retail, venues, attractions and in our hotels in Melbourne and regional Victoria.

And we look forward to continuing to partner with Team Victoria as we work towards our collective goal of a thriving and vibrant visitor economy.

On a final note, we invite you to save the date for Destination Victoria 2024, which will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on 8 and 9 October. More details to follow in the New Year.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season with family and friends, and a prosperous time for Victoria’s visitor economy.

Brendan McClements

Chief Executive